book fairs · books · bookshelves

A Book Fair and Presents from Far Away

April’s Sarajevo Book Fair was as uninspiring as the previous one. Usually, I visit it on the first day, with Joanna – it’s been our tradition for the past eleven years. This year, however, she had better things to do, and I went, feeling no excitement, two days before closing day with another friend of mine.

I had a faint hope of finding some of the Aitmatov’s novels, and I actually did found one, The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years, but it was so ridiculously expensive that even dwelling on whether or not to buy it was out of the question. Here’s what I ended up buying/getting:

  • Satantango. Laszlo Krasznahorkai
  • The Ice Palace. Tarjei Vesaas
  • Dani u Valhali. (The Days in Valhalla) Refik Ličina
  • The Puppet Master. Jostein Gaarder
  • The Golovlyov Family. Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin
  • Tužne šansone. (The Sad Chansons) Dušan Gojkov

Last year I bought Vesaas’ The Birds and was thrilled to learn that Dereta was planning to publish The Ice Palace as well. I’ve been searching for this book for ages! It finally came out and of course, I had to have it. Satantango was another book of theirs that drew my attention. Kraszahorkai’s has been on my reading list for years, so this was an easy choice. (I love Dereta’s covers – very simple, minimalistic, still very beautiful and effective.)

Digging through a bunch of red ”Reč i misao” (A Word and a Thought) books, I stumbled upon The Golovlyov Family. Karen opened my eyes to Saltykov-Shchedrin’s work when she wrote about The History of a Town. I looked up the existing translations to Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian and learned that there are seven books in existence (which is not a wonder at all). I made a note to myself to pay closer attention when browsing old, used book boxes and shelves. It paid off. I am happily looking forward to reading it.

Gaarder’s latest novel was an early birthday gift from a friend and another book I know I will enjoy reading. (Even though I have a hunch it will not be in the league of his earlier novels.)

Not sure why I bought Dani u Valhalli. It’s a kind of a fictionalized memoir about the author’s life in exile (in Sweden)… While I was checking a box with used books in English, at the same stall, the vendor asked if he could give me a gift, picked Tužne šansone and gave it to me for ”being pretty”. He also had Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and Maugham’s stories (very cheap, forgot the title), but I had no cash left, and when I came back the next day both titles were gone. Just my luck. I still can’t get over them, especially Aristophanes…

So, in the end, it should be said that I am relatively satisfied with what I managed to get out of the Fair.

Next, I need to record the books sent by a dear friend in Malaysia. They have given (and continue to give) me so much pleasure. Just the sight of them is spirit-lifting.

A Nature Journal. Richard Mabey (Pure joy! Gorgeously illustrated by Clare Roberts. After reading it, I felt even more inspired to continue observing life in my small corner of the Earth.)

A Buzz in the Meadow. Dave Goulson (Another delightful title! I’m still reading it. Goulson knows how to tell a story.)

The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly. Sun-mi Hwang (A short and sweet novel about a hen who took things in her own.. wings.)

Pennine Way Companion. Alfred Wainwright (I love the visual aspect of this book – lots of beautiful illustrations and the font resembles handwriting. If I ever set my foot on the England’s first continuous long-distance path for walkers, it will come very handy.)

So, that was April. On to write about the May book haul…

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13 thoughts on “A Book Fair and Presents from Far Away

    1. I’ve heard all the good things about it. It will be a powerful experience. I should see the movie as well, a classic in its own right. But after I read the book.

  1. Sorry the book fair was a disappointment but I hope the Golovylovs don’t let you down – I’m looking forward to that one myself. And the Wainwright books are a thing of great beauty – I have a whole set!

    1. I don’t think they will. I am saving them for the last stop on the journey through the former Soviet Union. I think the book will give a good perspective. :)

      A whole set! That sounds delightful. Are you an armchair traveler or did you use them on an actual walk.. or both? :)

        1. I like that! There’s a tendency here in Bosnia, I noticed, of people joining all sorts of hiking and mountaineering societies after retirement… They usually say: ‘Now I can live my life the way I really want to.’

  2. The Ice Palace sounds very intriguing (I looked it up in Goodreads), and I love the sound of ‘A Word and a Thought’ books. Too bad about Aristophanes and Maugham. I have also recently picked up a few Maugham over here, as you would have seen. :) Must start reading some soon!
    And surely being gifted with books just by simply “being pretty”, can’t be such a bad thing? :p
    (hahahaha…… gave me a good laugh though, sorry!) :D

    1. I don’t have the slightest doubt that it’s excellent – The Ice Palace. Tarjei Vesaas is one of the greatest Norwegian writers.
      ‘Reč i misao’ edition is the real deal. It’s a set of almost six hundred books (novels, stories, poetry, drama, epic poetry, from all over the world) published in the course of fifty years (1959-2009). One couldn’t go wrong with these. I’ve been playing with a thought of writing a post on them…
      Maugham I’ve never read but I have several of his titles on the reading list. I think I tried reading The Moon and Sixpence twice, but for some reason (can’t remember what it was) I hadn’t get further than a few pages…

      I had to reread the post to check if I made it look as if the presents are only pretty from the outside! Because that was not my intention at all! :D
      I am reading a bit of A Buzz in the Meadow every morning and I am enjoying it thoroughly. :)

      1. I was referring to the vendor who picked a book for you for “being pretty”. :p (hahahah…..) Glad you are enjoying A Buzz. :) And yes, please do seriously consider a post on those “A Word and a Thought” editions. Would love to know more about them!

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